Category Archives: Congress Blog

Has anyone heard of due process?: Politicians condem NLRB over complaint filed against Boeing

Unions and the rights of their workers are being trampled on, when is it going to stop? Maybe after work conditions and wages are returned to their pre-1920’s standing and the return of the “Robber Barons” who lined the pockets of political cronies to looked the other way.

By Ross Eisenbrey, Economic Policy Institute Vice President
posted from The Hill’s Congress Blog

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) recently filed a complaint against the Boeing Corporation based on evidence that Boeing moved work away from Washington State as punishment for the employees having exercised their legally protected right to strike. Politicians who either don’t know the law or don’t care about it have condemned the NLRB, including Mitt Romney and his fellow Republican candidates for President. They want to rile up the business community by painting the decision as the President’s, even though it was made by a career government employee on behalf of an independent agency outside the President’s control.

Various senators and congressmen are now trying to influence the Labor Board’s ultimate decision, which is not a policy decision but an adjudication. The law and policy were provided by Congress in 1935 when the National Labor Relations Act was passed by Congress and signed by Franklin Roosevelt. The NLRB’s only responsibility is to apply the law to the facts of this case, an undertaking that should be free from political influence or intimidation. And yet a growing number of legislators are threatening to slash the NLRB’s budget and punish its General Counsel if the case proceeds in the manner proscribed by statute.

This attack on the NLRB is political and self-interested. After all, the NLRB’s administrative law judge has not even held a trial yet. The only decision that has been made – and all legal scholars agree it was defensible – was by the General Counsel in response to a charge brought by the International Association of Machinists that there was good cause to believe that Boeing had violated the law. In other words, the union provided enough evidence of Boeing’s motivation that a trial in the matter is justified.

The members of the NLRB will not even review the case unless and until the trial judge’s decision is appealed. So all the howling about the NLRB’s assault on capitalism and free enterprise is premature, to say the least.

Sadly, the political pressure is having an effect already. Even Democrats are racing to say that, of course, business has the right to relocate anywhere it wants to, even to a so-called right-to-work state like South Carolina. And they’re right, up to a point.

Businesses are free to relocate to other states or countries. South Carolina has been a stop-over for businesses relocating from the north for decades; many companies, from textile manufacturers to furniture companies and paper processors, often go on to countries like China after absorbing the tax breaks and other subsidies South Carolina offers them. Unions are rare in South Carolina, but independent unions in China are actually illegal, and wages are even lower in Chinese textile plants than in Gaston or Winnsboro.

But the motive for a relocation matters. Moving for cheaper labor is legal. But closing a plant in Los Angeles and moving to North Dakota to avoid hiring Hispanics or African Americans is not legal. Shutting a factory in New York and moving it to South Carolina to avoid hiring Jews or Muslims would not be legal, either. One can imagine other illegal motivations, but the point is that we reasonably limit relocations when they violate laws. In Boeing’s case, the bad motive that has been alleged is a desire to punish the machinist union members for exercising their legally protected right to strike. E-mail traffic among Boeing managers is alleged to show that it was due to the desire to punish the Washington State Boeing workers for having engaged in lawful strikes that airline production work was transferred. Congress has prohibited job decisions based explicitly on unlawful animus, whether it’s hostility to blacks, women, Mormons, Muslims, Jews or unions. Instead of browbeating the neutral prosecutor and judge, why not let them do their jobs and apply the law to the facts? We used to call that due process.

Ross Eisenbrey is a lawyer and former commissioner of the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Committee. He has been vice president of the Economic Policy Institute since 2003.

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Filed under Boeing Corp, Congress, Congress Blog, Franklin D. Roosevelt, labor unions, National Labor Relations Board(NLRB), North Carolina, Republican Candidates, right to work, The Hill

‘Republicants’ Deny Sky Is Falling

By United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, posted on The Hill’s Congressional Blog.

The sky is falling.

For the average Working Joe or Jane in America, it is anyway. Unemployment is at 7.6 percent and rising. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that there are 4.1 job seekers now for every opening. The mortgage delinquency rate set another record last quarter, and foreclosures are predicted to top 1 million this year. Because of reckless speculation by Wall Street financiers, the stock market is plummeting, taking with it a third of the value of the retirement accounts of hard-working Americans.

If the average Jane and Joe have not lost their jobs, they’ve seen a big chunk of their retirement savings slip away. Or their kid can’t find work. Or a neighbor’s been foreclosed on.

Still, Republicans in Congress couldn’t find it in their hearts to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly called the stimulus bill. They just can’t vote to support the American people — they’re “Republicants.”

An official description of the act the Republicants rejected says it: “Makes supplemental appropriations for FY2009: (1) for job preservation and creation; (2) to promote economic recovery; (3) to assist those most impacted by the recession; (4) to provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health; (5) to invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits; and (6) to stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases.”

In the House, not a single Republicant voted for this bill to create jobs and restore economic growth. In the Senate, three brave members of the GOP stood up to the Republicants gang to pass the Recovery Act and aid suffering Americans — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Read more >>> Here

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Filed under Congress, Congress Blog, Economic Stimulus Package, Loe W. Gerard, Republicants, the GOP, unemployment rate, United Steelworkers International

>‘Republicants’ Deny Sky Is Falling

>By United Steelworkers International President Leo W. Gerard, posted on The Hill’s Congressional Blog.

The sky is falling.

For the average Working Joe or Jane in America, it is anyway. Unemployment is at 7.6 percent and rising. The Economic Policy Institute estimates that there are 4.1 job seekers now for every opening. The mortgage delinquency rate set another record last quarter, and foreclosures are predicted to top 1 million this year. Because of reckless speculation by Wall Street financiers, the stock market is plummeting, taking with it a third of the value of the retirement accounts of hard-working Americans.

If the average Jane and Joe have not lost their jobs, they’ve seen a big chunk of their retirement savings slip away. Or their kid can’t find work. Or a neighbor’s been foreclosed on.

Still, Republicans in Congress couldn’t find it in their hearts to vote for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly called the stimulus bill. They just can’t vote to support the American people — they’re “Republicants.”

An official description of the act the Republicants rejected says it: “Makes supplemental appropriations for FY2009: (1) for job preservation and creation; (2) to promote economic recovery; (3) to assist those most impacted by the recession; (4) to provide investments needed to increase economic efficiency by spurring technological advances in science and health; (5) to invest in transportation, environmental protection, and other infrastructure that will provide long-term economic benefits; and (6) to stabilize state and local government budgets, in order to minimize and avoid reductions in essential services and counterproductive state and local tax increases.”

In the House, not a single Republicant voted for this bill to create jobs and restore economic growth. In the Senate, three brave members of the GOP stood up to the Republicants gang to pass the Recovery Act and aid suffering Americans — Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.

Read more >>> Here

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Filed under Congress, Congress Blog, Economic Stimulus Package, Loe W. Gerard, Republicants, the GOP, unemployment rate, United Steelworkers International

Where Do We Go from Here?

Sen. Bernie Sanders  from Vermont has an interesting essay posted on the Hill’s Congress blog today. It outlines some of the failures of the past eight years and what will be waiting for Barack Obama when he takes office on January 20th. 

Sanders also lists a few initiatives that he will be working on in the Senate come the new year, it’s good stuff:

The next few months will be a pivotal period in the history of the United States and for much of the world. The Bush Administration, perhaps the most reactionary and incompetent that our country has ever seen, is leaving office after eight disastrous years. President Barack Obama and an increased Democratic majority take power amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The decisions that are made early on will send an important signal as to whether Obama’s campaign of “hope” and “change” will be seriously pursued and realized, or whether the power of the Big Money interests will persist — regardless of which president is in office or which party has the majority. Will a new president and a new and more Democratic Congress finally respond to the needs of the middle class and working families of our country, or will Wall Street, insurance and drug companies, the military-industrial-complex, the oil and coal companies, big media, and the other powerful special interests continue to hold sway?

Here are just a few of the issues that President Obama, the Congress and all Americans must confront:

The middle class is continuing its steep decline with unemployment soaring, and millions of people in danger of losing their homes, savings, and health insurance. The dream of a college education is fading away for many working families as college costs go up while incomes go down. This year, as a result of the economic downturn, the bailout of Wall Street, ongoing tax breaks for the very rich and the war in Iraq, our nation will have a record-breaking deficit and a huge $10.4 trillion national debt. The United States continues to have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country, and the most unequal distribution of wealth and income.

As a result of Wall Street greed, recklessness, and dishonesty, our entire financial system is in danger of collapsing. The taxpayers of this country have seen trillions of their dollars placed at risk in the largest bailout in world history.

Our incredibly inefficient health care system is disintegrating. Despite spending far more per capita than any other country, 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Even more are underinsured. And we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.


Finish reading Berinie Sanders’s blog posting >>>Here

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Filed under Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Congress, Congress Blog, Democratic Majority, Great Depression, Healthcare, Iraq War, national debt, poverty, President Bush, The Hill, Vermont, Wall Street

>Where Do We Go from Here?

>Sen. Bernie Sanders  from Vermont has an interesting essay posted on the Hill’s Congress blog today. It outlines some of the failures of the past eight years and what will be waiting for Barack Obama when he takes office on January 20th. 

Sanders also lists a few initiatives that he will be working on in the Senate come the new year, it’s good stuff:

The next few months will be a pivotal period in the history of the United States and for much of the world. The Bush Administration, perhaps the most reactionary and incompetent that our country has ever seen, is leaving office after eight disastrous years. President Barack Obama and an increased Democratic majority take power amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The decisions that are made early on will send an important signal as to whether Obama’s campaign of “hope” and “change” will be seriously pursued and realized, or whether the power of the Big Money interests will persist — regardless of which president is in office or which party has the majority. Will a new president and a new and more Democratic Congress finally respond to the needs of the middle class and working families of our country, or will Wall Street, insurance and drug companies, the military-industrial-complex, the oil and coal companies, big media, and the other powerful special interests continue to hold sway?

Here are just a few of the issues that President Obama, the Congress and all Americans must confront:

The middle class is continuing its steep decline with unemployment soaring, and millions of people in danger of losing their homes, savings, and health insurance. The dream of a college education is fading away for many working families as college costs go up while incomes go down. This year, as a result of the economic downturn, the bailout of Wall Street, ongoing tax breaks for the very rich and the war in Iraq, our nation will have a record-breaking deficit and a huge $10.4 trillion national debt. The United States continues to have the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country, and the most unequal distribution of wealth and income.

As a result of Wall Street greed, recklessness, and dishonesty, our entire financial system is in danger of collapsing. The taxpayers of this country have seen trillions of their dollars placed at risk in the largest bailout in world history.

Our incredibly inefficient health care system is disintegrating. Despite spending far more per capita than any other country, 47 million Americans have no health insurance. Even more are underinsured. And we pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs.


Finish reading Berinie Sanders’s blog posting >>>Here

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Filed under Barack Obama, Bernie Sanders, Congress, Congress Blog, Democratic Majority, Great Depression, Healthcare, Iraq War, national debt, poverty, President Bush, The Hill, Vermont, Wall Street

Legalizing Marijuana Tops Obama Online Poll

Break out the blunts and pass the munchies, the results are in from the Change.gov online poll that asked for people’s opinions on what are the most important issues that they would like to see an Obama administration address. The issue that topped list was wether or not the president elect would consider legalizing the use of Marijuana.
With all of the more pressing concerns that face our nation like the economy and Iraq, I found this rather amusing and I an sure it was not what team Obama was asking for.
  

The following letter was posted on the Congressional Blog page of The Hill, it was written by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Deputy Director Paul Armentano:

 
Be careful what you wish for.

Last week, the website Change.gov — the official website of the Obama Transition Team — asked the public to provide them with a list of the top public policy questions facing America. Visitors to the site were then asked to vote on which questions should take priority for the incoming administration.

According to the website, “participation … outpaced our expectations. … Since its launch … the Open for Questions tool has processed over 600,000 votes from more than 10,000 people on more than 7,300 questions.”

Ironically but perhaps not surprisingly the top question for the new administration — as chosen on and voted by the general public — was one most politicians seem utterly unwilling to talk about.

“Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”

To anyone thinking the #1 question was some kind of fluke, consider this: More than a dozen of the top 50 vote-getting questions pertained to amending America’s drug policies. For example:

Question #7: “Thirteen states have compassionate use programs for medial Marijuana, yet the federal government continues to prosecute sick and dying people. Isn’t it time for the federal government to step out of the way and let doctors and families decide what is appropriate?” The public’s demand for the Obama administration?”

Question #13: “How will you fix the current war on drugs in America? and will there be any chance of decriminalizing marijuana?”

Question #15: “What kind of progress can be expected on the decriminalization and legalization for medicinal purposes of marijuana and will you re-prioritize the “War On Drugs” to reflect the need for drug treatment instead of incarceration?”

Following the poll, the Obama Transition Team posted the following reply, “Over the next few days, some of the most popular questions selected by the Change.gov community will be answered by the Transition team, and their responses will be posted here on the site.”

So will Obama’s team respond to the demands of the electorate and initiate an honest, objective, and long-overdue review of U.S. Marijuana policies? Or will the incoming administration — like the outgoing one — hide their collective heads in the sand?

It was just over a month ago when statewide marijuana law reform initiatives in Massachusetts and Michigan prevailed with more votes than America’s soon-to-be 44th President — once again reaffirming the widespread popular support for changing our nation’s antiquated and punitive pot laws. It wasn’t clear that either the national media or the incoming administration were listening then. Are they listening now?

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Filed under Afghanistan, bailout, Barack Obama, Change.gov, Congress Blog, economy, Financial crisis, Iraq War, Marijuana laws, President-Elect, Presidential Transition team, The Hill

>Legalizing Marijuana Tops Obama Online Poll

>

Break out the blunts and pass the munchies, the results are in from the Change.gov online poll that asked for people’s opinions on what are the most important issues that they would like to see an Obama administration address. The issue that topped list was wether or not the president elect would consider legalizing the use of Marijuana.
With all of the more pressing concerns that face our nation like the economy and Iraq, I found this rather amusing and I an sure it was not what team Obama was asking for.
  

The following letter was posted on the Congressional Blog page of The Hill, it was written by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Deputy Director Paul Armentano:

 
Be careful what you wish for.

Last week, the website Change.gov — the official website of the Obama Transition Team — asked the public to provide them with a list of the top public policy questions facing America. Visitors to the site were then asked to vote on which questions should take priority for the incoming administration.

According to the website, “participation … outpaced our expectations. … Since its launch … the Open for Questions tool has processed over 600,000 votes from more than 10,000 people on more than 7,300 questions.”

Ironically but perhaps not surprisingly the top question for the new administration — as chosen on and voted by the general public — was one most politicians seem utterly unwilling to talk about.

“Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?”

To anyone thinking the #1 question was some kind of fluke, consider this: More than a dozen of the top 50 vote-getting questions pertained to amending America’s drug policies. For example:

Question #7: “Thirteen states have compassionate use programs for medial Marijuana, yet the federal government continues to prosecute sick and dying people. Isn’t it time for the federal government to step out of the way and let doctors and families decide what is appropriate?” The public’s demand for the Obama administration?”

Question #13: “How will you fix the current war on drugs in America? and will there be any chance of decriminalizing marijuana?”

Question #15: “What kind of progress can be expected on the decriminalization and legalization for medicinal purposes of marijuana and will you re-prioritize the “War On Drugs” to reflect the need for drug treatment instead of incarceration?”

Following the poll, the Obama Transition Team posted the following reply, “Over the next few days, some of the most popular questions selected by the Change.gov community will be answered by the Transition team, and their responses will be posted here on the site.”

So will Obama’s team respond to the demands of the electorate and initiate an honest, objective, and long-overdue review of U.S. Marijuana policies? Or will the incoming administration — like the outgoing one — hide their collective heads in the sand?

It was just over a month ago when statewide marijuana law reform initiatives in Massachusetts and Michigan prevailed with more votes than America’s soon-to-be 44th President — once again reaffirming the widespread popular support for changing our nation’s antiquated and punitive pot laws. It wasn’t clear that either the national media or the incoming administration were listening then. Are they listening now?

Leave a comment

Filed under Afghanistan, bailout, Barack Obama, Change.gov, Congress Blog, economy, Financial crisis, Iraq War, Marijuana laws, President-Elect, Presidential Transition team, The Hill